The Republic of Venice gave the Jews the possibility to create a cemetery of their own in 1386, giving them a non cultivated, piece of land in St. Nicholas of Lido, whose property was however claimed by the monastery of Lido.

At the end of the disputation with the monks the cemetery, starting from 1389, was used with no interruptions and later made bigger reaching its top expansion in 1641.

After this date, the widening of system of fortification of the Lido, wanted by the the Serenissima Republic to defend itself from the Turks, brought to a slow but constant reshaping of the cemetery spaces southbound, so that in 1736 the “University of Jews” was forced to buy a piece of land bordering it.

The fall of the Venetian Republic, the foreigner occupations and the consequent vandalistic acts, as well as the atmospheric agents brought to the disappearance of many monuments and to the ruin of the Jewish cemetery.

In the 19th century because of the project to make the Lido of Venice healthier and competitive, part of the Cemetery (now belonging to the state) was expropriated and bound to other uses.

Later, some attempts to restore it began, without outcome and in 1938 (promulgation of Italian Racial laws) the cemetery was definitely abandoned.

In 1999, thanks to the collaboration of public and private enterprises, both from Italy and abroad, a big work of restoration has begun: many memorials have been saved and classified more than 1000 of them which can be dated between 1550 and the early 18th century.

Now this suggestive place, witness of centuries of Venetian Jewish History, has found again its dignity and is possible to visit it by guided tours that can be booked at the Museum.

Bet qevaròth o Beth hayyìm (casa della vita)

Sometimes the cemeteries are the only possible way to remember the presence in the past centuries of ancient communities now disappeared. The Jewish concept of the respect of death wants that the dead person is taken with religious solicitude to the cemetery and put on contact with earth.

It is a good action to wash the body of a dead person, accompanying him/her to his/her last travel and to attend his/her burial. After the ritual washing, of which the chevra kaddisha, i.e., the Jewish Brotherhood for burial is in charge for, the corpse (taharat) is wrapped in white cloth, as a symbol of spiritual purity.

After the burial the corpse can not be removed, if not to be buried in Israel.

After the burial, the period of mourning (avelut) begins: the relatives closer to the dead, to underline their grieving expression, cut a piece of their clothing (keriah) and follow the rules of the strictest mourning for a week, during which sit on short stools; during the first thirty days men can not shave or cut their hair.

During the period of mourning the Kaddish, a prayer of exaltation and resignation to God’s will, is recited in the memory of the dead person.

In the cemeteries the tombstones are constituted by a simple plaque with essential decorations not to associate the sense of magnificence to the austerity of death. It is a Jewish tradition to bring on the tombstones not flowers, but a little pebble.